The removal of trees by Petts Wood train station is "absolutely essential", according to Network Rail after criticism emerged.

Network Rail is in the process of clearing vegetation back to seven metres from the railway tracks between Sevenoaks and Elmstead Woods.

The number of trees being cut is "a bit extreme", according to Petts Wood Residents' Association.

However, Network Rail says the work is required to keep the railway running safely and reliably.

A spokesman added: "High winds can cause heavy leaf fall in a short space of time and when it rains they stick to the rails. When trains pass over these leaves, the heat and weight of the trains bake them into a hard and slippery layer.

"Just like you wouldn’t accelerate over black ice on the roads, we can’t risk passenger safety by running trains at full speed over leaves.

"To minimise train delays, we work throughout the year to manage vegetation that grows next to the railway.

"While clearing vegetation is sometimes necessary, we are mindful it can have an impact on local communities and the environment, so we work hard to strike the right balance."

Petts Wood Residents' Association told News Shopper it understood the importance of the work, but said the cutting back of the greenery "has been a bit extreme".

A spokesman questioned why trees next to Morrisons on Platform 1 were chopped.

"These trees were virtually all deciduous evergreen," he said. "We don’t understand why it was necessary to cut these down."

READ MORE: Bromley trees: Council give trees special protection

Bromley Council issued two tree protection orders in May 2018 over controversial plans to remove them.

Network Rail wanted to axe trees by the railway tracks in Ridgeway Drive before the council blocked it from doing so.